You can find everything from long distance to music for free online (legally), provided you know where to look.
Sending an instant message, watching the latest episode of Lost, listening to the radio or tweeting your lunch are all free online, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Free Long Distance
Sure, you can call someone for free with something like Skype (as long as the person you’re calling is also using Skype), but what if you want to reach out to someone without a computer? There are other services like Talkster that allow you to call a land line for free… with a few caveats. The service supplies their own local numbers that you have to call first, you might have to listen to an ad before your call beings and it’s only free if you’re calling one of some 50-odd countries, but free is free.
As long as you’re not a power faxer, you can probably ditch the old fax machine in favor of your email inbox. Both Qipit and FaxZero let you send a limited number of free faxes. The catch is relatively benign, the fax cover sheet has the name of the service on it. Efax Free, a more popular alternative, will let you receive (but not send) a limited number of faxes through their site.
The library is so 20th Century… this is 2010 after all! Project Gutenberg, a collaborative effort to be awesome, offers more than 30,000 eBooks on hand, plus links to another 70,000 hosted on other sites. They run on donations from readers like you but don’t even require a registration to download. Books are offered in a variety of digital formats and can be read on pretty much everything, including your PC, iPhone, Kindle, Sony Reader or other compatible portable device. However, you’ll only find books that are in the public domain, typically meaning they were written prior to 1923.
No… we’re not talking about illegally downloading MP3’s. Music stores like Amazon.com and iTunes typically have a few free songs from popular artists, on a rotating basis, at any given time. Check out the Amazon.com free song of the day. However, you might have to do some digging to find them. Other sites like Pandora, Last.fm and Lala let you stream songs on demand through your web browser, while VEVO, a brand new site created by YouTube/Google, lets you watch pretty much any music video you want.